right after the Taliban take or not power Afghanistan, television anchor Beheshta Arghand made history by becoming the first woman to interview a spokesperson for the group on national television.
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At 23, Beheshta was on the staff of journalists for TOLO, an Afghan news network, when she was surprised by a Taliban member in the studio asking to be interviewed. The live interview made headlines around the world.
“Fortunately I always wear long clothes in the studio because we have different people with different minds,” the young woman told Reuters in Doha, Qatar’s capital, where she has lived since fleeing Afghanistan on Aug. 24 with the help of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai .
The nationally televised interview is part of a Taliban campaign to show a more moderate side of the group. They pledged to respect women’s rights and include other Afghan factions in a power deal.
Despite this, Beheshta said the group had ordered all women to wear hijabs and subsequently all anchors to be suspended from broadcasters. She also reported that the Islamic group had asked local media to stop talking about the government’s fall.
Many of her colleagues had already left Afghanistan at that time, despite the Taliban saying media freedom would be guaranteed and women would have access to education and work.
“I called Malala and asked if she could do something for me,” Beheshta said. Activist Malala Yousafzai helped put her on the Qatar refugee list.
Malala, who expressed concern for the safety of women after the takeover of power in Afghanistan, survived a shot by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012, and is known internationally for her commitment to advocating for the education of women.
Beheshta and his family left the country and joined thousands of foreigners and Afghan citizens who participated in the chaotic US-led evacuation.
Looking back, the journalist said that she realized how much she loved her country and her chosen profession. “When I sat on the plane, I told myself: now you have nothing left”.